Eisenhower in War and Peace

Eisenhower in War and Peace

by Jean Edward Smith

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812982886
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/07/2013
Pages: 976
Sales rank: 120,666
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jean Edward Smith is the author of the highly acclaimed FDR, winner of the 2008 Francis Parkman Prize; Grant, a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist; John Marshall: Definer of a Nation; and Lucius D. Clay: An American Life. A member of the faculty at the University of Toronto for thirty-five years, and at Marshall University for twelve, he is currently a senior scholar in the history department at Columbia.

Read an Excerpt

ONE

Just Folks

I'm just folks. I come from the people,

the ordinary people.

-dwight d. eisenhower

dwight d. eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas, on October 14, 1890.1 He was the third of seven sons born to David and Ida Eisenhower, and the only one born in Texas. The Eisenhowers lived in Denison from October 1888 to March 1892, and it was the economic low point of their married life. David worked for ten dollars a week as an engine wiper for the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (Katy) Railroad, and the family lived in a soot-encrusted shanty near the tracks.

David's bout with poverty was self-inflicted. His Eisenhower ancestors had been prosperous farmers, first in the Odenwald region of Germany, south of Frankfurt, then in Pennsylvania, then Kansas. The first Eisenhower to arrive in America was Hans Nicholas, who landed in Philadelphia in 1741, part of the wave of Protestant emigration from Europe to the Quaker colony of Pennsylvania. The family flourished amid the fertile soil of the Susquehanna Valley. Originally Lutheran, they married into the River Brethren, a doctrinaire offshoot of the Mennonites, embraced the faith, and quickly emerged as leaders of the flock.1 Jacob, David's father (and Ike's grandfather), became the preacher and a patriarch of the sect, attracting large audiences to his sermons, which he delivered in German-

the plattdeutsch vernacular that was still spoken in most households.

In 1878, the River Brethren sold their holdings along the Susquehanna and moved to Kansas, lured by the promise of cheap land, deep soil, and the opportunity to plant their community in the virgin countryside. They took the train from Harrisburg, filling fifteen freight cars with their farm equipment and belongings, including a dozen heavy-duty eight-horse wagons new to the prairie. They also brought a half-million dollars in cash (roughly $9 million in current dollars), the product of a thrifty lifestyle and successful land sales in a rising eastern market.2 That combination of thrift and capital, of diligence and experience, plus a generous helping of communal support, ensured success where others failed. As an early Kansas history put it, the River Brethren were "one of the most complete and perfectly organized [colonies] that ever entered a new country."3

The colony settled in Dickinson County along the fertile banks of Smoky Hill River, smack in the middle of Kansas and twenty miles west of the geographic center of the United States, an area that would become one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world.4 Jacob purchased a quarter section (160 acres) of prime farmland and erected a large house that also served as a Sunday meeting place for the brethren. He built a huge barn reminiscent of the Dutch barns in Pennsylvania, added to his dairy herd, and constructed a wooden windmill.

The River Brethren thrived in their new setting. Jacob acquired more land, helped found a successful local creamery, and established a bank in the nearby village of Hope. When his children married, he provided each with a quarter section of tillable land as a homestead and two thousand dollars in cash, more than enough to get started if they wished to follow in his footsteps.

David Eisenhower was fifteen when his parents moved to Kansas. Unlike his siblings he had no interest in farming and secured his father's permission to study engineering and mechanics at Lane College, a fledgling educational institution founded by the United Brethren in Christ in nearby Lecompton. With a faculty of ten part-time instructors and two hundred students, the school had a modest curriculum emphasizing religious studies and vocational training with a smattering of the liberal arts. David enrolled in September 1883, at the age of twenty, and the following year met a captivating young woman from Virginia, Ida Stover, who had entered Lane to study music.

Ida's background was similar to David's. Her ancestors had emigrated from Swabia (near Stuttgart) a decade before the Eisenhowers, settled initially in Pennsylvania, then in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Among the first Germans to reach the Shenandoah, they prospered tilling the soil and soon accumulated substantial land holdings. Ida was born at Mount Sidney in 1862, one of eleven children, and was baptized in the Lutheran faith. Her parents died when she was young, and she was raised by her maternal grandparents. Blessed with boundless confidence, she left home to attend high school in Staunton, and then taught for two years in a one-room schoolhouse near Mount Sidney. When she turned twenty-one, Ida came into an inheritance of a thousand dollars left by her father. Several of her brothers had already moved to Kansas, and she used part of the money to join them. In June 1883, she settled in Lecompton with her brother William, a successful local minister. That autumn she entered Lane.5

Ida and David made an attractive couple, but in many ways they could not have been more different. She was optimistic, perky, and, in the words of one biographer, "as bright as the Kansas sunshine."6 He was solemn, introverted, and stubborn-as humorless and self-absorbed as Ida was vivacious and outgoing. They were married on September 23, 1885, David's twenty-second birthday, and Ida spent the last of her inheritance, some $600 (roughly $10,000 today), on a new ebony piano built by Hallett and Cumston in Boston, a possession she treasured for the rest of her life.

Neither David nor Ida completed their studies at Lane. With his father's support, David opened a general store in Hope, using the proceeds from his wedding present as capital.7 The village of Hope, located twenty-eight miles southeast of Abilene, was the commercial center for the River Brethren. The main line of the Topeka, Salina, and Western Railroad had just reached the settlement, and the opportunity for growth appeared assured. Because David had no business experience, he formed a partnership with Milton Good, a young man roughly the same age who was a clothing salesman in Abilene and who was familiar with the retail trade. There were two apartments above the store. David and Ida lived in one, and the Goods in the other.

According to Eisenhower legend, Milton Good was a scoundrel who absconded with the firm's cash, leaving David helpless to pay the store's bills. The business failed, and David was forced to travel to Denison to find work. That is the account David and Ida told, and which the Eisenhower sons dutifully passed on.8

That is not what happened. Milton Good did not abscond with the money, and the store did not fail. It had been a rocky partnership from the beginning-the partners were temperamentally mismatched, and David was far from easy to work with. After eighteen months they dissolved the partnership and David bought out Good. He borrowed $3,500 from his father, pledged the store's inventory as collateral, and used the money to purchase Good's share of the business. Three days later Jacob Eisenhower canceled the mortgage, in effect converting the loan into a gift.9

Milton Good's place in the store was taken by David's younger brother, Abraham Lincoln Eisenhower, and the firm was rechristened Eisenhower Brothers. Abraham was a River Brethren preacher and practicing veterinarian, and was as genial as David was somber. With Abraham's spark the business continued, although David grew increasingly dissatisfied. He lost interest in the store and walked away from it in October 1888. The business was renamed A. L. Eisenhower & Company, and David drifted off to Denison, leaving Ida, who was six months pregnant, and their two-year-old son, Arthur, in Abraham's care.10

David's decision to quit the store and abandon his pregnant wife is incomprehensible. He had no job lined up or profession on which to fall back, and he disdained the farm life at which the Eisenhowers excelled. In fact, the decision is so inexplicable that David could never own up to it, and neither parent ever revealed the truth to their children. Out of pity for David, those who knew the truth-the Eisenhower family and others-also kept the secret to themselves, complicit, as it were, in a myth that had no substance. As a result, Ike and his brothers died believing the family's straitened circumstances were due to Milton Good's treachery rather than their father's instability.11

Ida remained in Hope with Abraham until her second son-

christened Edgar, for Edgar Allan Poe-was born, and in April 1889 moved the family to join David in Denison. Eighteen months later Dwight was born. By this time, the family had hit rock bottom. David was twenty-seven, Ida a year older. Of his own volition, David had squandered a substantial inheritance. The Eisenhowers lived in what was little more than a shack beside the tracks. Aside from Ida's piano (which had been left in Hope), they had no assets other than their clothes and a few household possessions, and absolutely no prospect of doing better.

The family came to the rescue. In 1891, after the death of his wife, Jacob Eisenhower visited his eldest son in Denison and was visibly shaken by the poverty in which he and Ida were living.12 The Belle Springs Creamery, which Jacob had helped found, and which had become one of the largest and most successful enterprises in Dickinson County, had recently built a new plant in Abilene.13 Chris Musser, David's brother-in-law (he had married David's sister Amanda), was the manager of the plant, and Jacob prevailed upon him to find a position for David. Musser offered him a job as a refrigeration mechanic at "less than $50 a month."14 That is essentially what David was earning in Denison, but the job was a considerable step up from scrubbing the grime from Katy locomotives, and he would be back in the bosom of the family. At Ida's urging, he accepted immediately. In March 1892, after three and a half years of self-imposed exile, David and Ida returned to Abilene. His total assets, which he carried in his pocket, amounted to $24.15.

David and Ida rented a small frame house a few blocks from the creamery. It had no plumbing or electricity, and sat tight by the neighbors with no yard or garden. The Eisenhowers remained there for seven years while three more sons were born: Roy in 1892; Paul in 1894 (he died in infancy); and Earl in 1898. Five boys in a cramped house made life nearly impossible. Again the family came to the rescue. In 1898, David's brother Abraham sold his veterinary practice (he had sold the store several years earlier) and moved west as a religious missionary. Abraham owned a large two-story frame house set on a three-acre lot, complete with a barn and fruit orchard. He agreed to sell the property to David for a thousand dollars. Jacob advanced the money, and the title was put in Ida's name-evidently a precaution against a recurrence of David's wanderlust.15 That is the house in which the Eisenhower boys grew to maturity, and which is now the focal point of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene.

The Abilene of 1898 was not the Abilene of Wild Bill Hickok and the Chisholm Trail.2 The famous cow town of the 1860s and '70s had faded into a sleepy Kansas backwater. The streets were still unpaved, the sidewalks still made of wooden planks, and the scent of the horse apples still lay over the main street. But the saloons and dance halls were gone. Abilene had but one policeman, who patrolled not for local crime, of which there was none, but for transient hustlers and others of ill repute. Churches, hymn singing, and picnics by the riverbank provided the town's excitement. Abilene had become a citadel of Protestant fundamentalism, the Kansas cradle of Prohibition. It was one of many buckles on the Bible Belt: a wholesome town of 3,500 where respectable citizens did not profane the Sabbath with baseball or football. The politics were populist, but the lifestyle was as staid and proper as on Boston's Beacon Hill. It was the American heartland.

Eisenhower was eight when the family moved to their new home. "I have found out later we were very poor," he recalled, "but we didn't know it at the time."16 David worked twelve hours a day, six days a week at the creamery, but his meager salary scarcely covered basic necessities. Ida ran the household, assigned chores to the children, and managed what became a three-acre garden plot. There were two cows to provide milk, a flock of chickens for eggs, ducks, pigs, and a horse to plow the garden and pull the family wagon. Except for flour, sugar, salt, and kerosene for their lamps, the Eisenhowers were largely self-sufficient. The boys wore hand-me-downs, performed odd jobs around town for spending money, and grew to manhood unencumbered by the complexities of urban life.

Religion loomed large in the Eisenhower household. The day began with David reading scripture to the family, there were prayers before each meal, and after supper the family gathered again to pass the Bible from hand to hand as each boy read a passage out loud. "This was a good way to get us to read the Bible," said Ike's younger brother Milton (who was born in 1899). "I am not sure it was a good way to help us understand it."17

None of the Eisenhower brothers shared their parents' religious ardor. By the time Ike left for West Point he had read the Bible through twice. He was familiar with it and often quoted passages from memory, but he rarely took it literally. His vocabulary was punctuated with profanity that would make a mule skinner blush, and throughout his military service he never joined a church or attended Sunday service.18 As president he allowed himself to be convinced thath the United States was a Christian country, joined Mamie in the Presbyterian faith, and urged that the words "under God" be inserted in the pledge of allegiance.193 Like FDR, a nominal Episcopalian, Eisenhower appreciated religion's political resonance.

For their part, David and Ida left the River Brethren and began the search for religious certainty in more personal terms. David found it in the Great Pyramid of Giza, which he reproduced in a six-by-ten- foot scale drawing and which he believed corroborated the prophecies in the Bible. Ida turned to a more austere and primitive sect known as Bible Students, which in 1931 adopted the name "Jehovah's Witnesses."20 Ike's brother Edgar remembers meetings in their house. "Everyone made his own interpretation of the Scripture lessons. Mother played the piano, and they sang hymns before and after each meeting. It was a real old time prayer meeting. They talked to God, read Scriptures, and everyone got a chance to state his relationship with Him."21 David attended Bible Students meetings with Ida for a number of years and then dropped out, retreating into personal mysticism.

After his misadventure in Denison, David was chastened and bitter. He became ever more sullen and introspective-something of a stranger to his children, with a quick and fearful temper. David never played with his sons, never took them hunting or fishing, did not swim with them, showed no interest in who their friends were, and rarely inquired about their activities. "He was an inflexible man with a stern code," said Edgar.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

1 Just Folks 3

2 The Great War 28

3 The Peacetime Army 49

4 With Pershing in Paris 74

5 With Macarthur in Washington 92

6 Manila 119

7 Louisiana Maneuvers 150

8 With Marshall in Washington 174

9 Torch 203

10 Baptism by Fire 230

11 Sicily 266

12 Supreme Commander 290

13 D-Day 318

14 The Liberation of France 355

15 Germany 393

16 Chief of Staff 432

17 Columbia 467

18 "I Like Ike" 498

19 The Great Crusade 523

20 Eight Millionaires and a Plumber 550

21 First off the Tee 579

22 Dien Blen Phu 607

23 New Look 634

24 Heart Attack 663

25 Suez 686

26 Little Rock 705

27 Military-Industrial Complex 731

28 Taps 761

Acknowledgments 767

Notes 769

Bibliography 867

Illustration Credits 897

Index 899

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Magisterial.”—The New York Times
 
“[A] fine new biography . . . [Eisenhower’s] White House years need a more thorough exploration than many previous biographers have given them. Smith, whose long, distinguished career includes superb one-volume biographies of Grant and Franklin Roosevelt, provides just that.”—The Washington Post
 
“Highly readable . . . [Smith] shows us that [Eisenhower’s] ascent to the highest levels of the military establishment had much more to do with his easy mastery of politics than with any great strategic or tactical achievements.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“Always engrossing . . . Smith portrays a genuinely admirable Eisenhower: smart, congenial, unpretentious, and no ideologue. Despite competing biographies from Ambrose, Perret, and D’Este, this is the best.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“No one has written so heroic a biography [on Eisenhower] as this year’s Eisenhower in War and Peace [by] Jean Edward Smith.”—The National Interest
 
“Dwight Eisenhower, who was more cunning than he allowed his adversaries to know, understood the advantage of being underestimated. Jean Edward Smith demonstrates precisely how successful this stratagem was. Smith, America’s greatest living biographer, shows why, now more than ever, Americans should like Ike.”—George F. Will

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Eisenhower in War and Peace 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
Raging_Rhino More than 1 year ago
Eisenhower in War and Peace illuminates the life and mind of one of America's finest leaders. A leader of leaders, Eisenhower was complicated, astute, and more imaginative then his Texan smile indicated. As a warrior, he led the Allies in WWII, and as President led America into prosperity and peace. Ike is seen as a "progressive conservative," a leader who knew what to preserve and what to change. If conservatives had followed him rather than Goldwater, the nation and the Republican Party would have been better served. Smith brings up the complexity of one of our greatest Presidents.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author carefully and thoroughly researched recorded information on Eisenhower's life and professional career to provide the basis for this book. It is well written and provides insight and understanding about how and why Eisenhower made decisions that had such a monumental effect on The United States, including winning WWII in Europe, Ending the Korean War, and preventing a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, and many domestic programs including civil rights and the interstate highway system, and balancing the budget. It should be required reading for all representatives and senators in the U.S. congress, and presidents.
western_coyote More than 1 year ago
I have read several Ike bios and this one is more informative and seems to be better researched than others. Here Ike is not portrayed in a cardboard way. Both mistakes and virtues are cited. For instance, Smith criticizes Ike for his gaffs and shortcomings in directing the North Africa invasion, but he also points out that Ike made an effort to learn from these mistakes and the war effort later benefits because he does this. The deeper research is also reflected in the illumination of such things as Ike's relation with Kay Summersby. Citing comments in associate's diaries, Smith characterizes the relationship as more romantic than described elsewhere. I am only half way through this book and it will be interesting to see if Smith is onto Ike's Presidential strategies. Ike was often thought of as a golfing, fly-fishing lightweight as a President. Lots of people fell for that diversion. There is one minor bias in this writing. Every insular attitude is characterized as "conservative." More thoughtful behavior, not so much.
steve2012 More than 1 year ago
Excellent book for the general reader and scholars. I have read a number of books on EIsenhower and this book provided a look at areas in Eisenhower life that I was not aware of.
OldWahoo More than 1 year ago
A well written and entertaining biography of our last warrior president. Full of interesting details such as Marshall's destruction of Ike's letter indicating he wanted to divorce Mamie and marry his wartime companion, Kay Summersby and Ike's nixing the joint chief's recommendation that nuclear weapons be used in Korea and China. A must read for anyone interested in WWII and the cold war era.
Capt_TomUp More than 1 year ago
Jean Edward Smith hit this one out of the ball park. I learned more about how this president took command of his administration and ran it much the same way as he did when he was Supreme Allied Commander. I'm glad I purchased this as a Nook ebook! I'll be able to reread and use it as a reference when I'm reading other books. This was worth the money spent!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well balanced, thoroughly researched and clearly written, the author captured the essence of who Eisenhower was. One of the best biographies I have had the pleasure to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must have been written by a catholic, lables the Sabbath as Sunday - and we all know the Sabbath is Saturday. Makes me wonder how much more in this document is tainted ? But still good if you love history.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This man goes with Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, and George W. Bush as great U.S. presidents. Born in Texas in 1890, Ike lived in Kansas, where excelled at math and history( like me), loved Football and Baseball, was good at it ( like me), and chased after girls, sometimes getting them and not( like me). He graduated from West Point and became a solider. He was an aid to General Fox Connor and General Douglas MacArthur. In World War 2 he was apponited Suprem Allied Commander in Europe, and was in charge of the highly sucesufull D-day invasion. He became a five star General. He became President of Columbia University and commander of NATO. In, in 1952, he announced he was running for President. He easily defeated Illonis Governor Adlai Stevenson to become the 34 president of the USA. He reduced taxes, ended the Korean War, and built up national defense. The fiftes were of economic peace. He spoke strongly for world peace, but made many nulculer weapons and pushed on the Cold War. After leaving the White House, he settled on a farm in Pennsylvain. He died of heart faliure in 1969, the year his vice president Richard Nixon ( see memoirs of Nixon for my biography of him), was President. This book details his life. THANK YOU!!!!
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Just a grand book. If you love biographies you won't want to miss this one. I'm going to read it at least twice.
cfly More than 1 year ago
Crammed with names, dates and all kinds of facts, the book nevertheless is an excellent read, primarily because Smith knows how to write.
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